See you at the Trash Bash

BY JEREMY W. PETERS DON'T MAKE ME COME BACK THERE

Published April 5, 2002

The white-trash extravaganza that will commence tomorrow at "high noon" (oh, how clever) is the 31-year-old deadbeat child that Ann Arbor just can't get to move out of her house.

Paul Wong

She's tried everything. Begging, pleading, threatening and now she's just hoping her friends and neighbors will ignore him as he loafs around in a dazed and chemically altered state. She won't do anything rational to discourage him like having him thrown in the pokey for a night, so he just won't go away.

Hash Bash, as he is known, each year draws a truly motley crew into the city. Just walk down any street around campus tomorrow and you'll see a despicable display of human existence.

The hippies (and not all of them may be accurately called hippies because the only link they have to the '60s is having seen the NBC made-for-TV movie bearing the decade's name) will roll into town around 10 in the morning, clogging the streets with their rust-rotted Volkswagen vans and cramming the sidewalks with their nappy dreadlocks and potato-sack pants.

They will peruse the local shops, rarely buying anything, instead making a mess of the objects they handle and leave behind a trail of stench reminiscent of Pigpen from Charlie Brown. They will make getting a table at any restaurant near campus impossible while they linger over their bean sprout pitas and soy milk, usually leaving a tip that consists of little more than loose change, as any area waiter or waitress will tell you.

Some - the chosen few - will accost passers-by to sign their medicinal marijuana petitions. As if the true motive of these people is to provide relief for the ailing elderly. Not likely.

Then once "high noon" approaches they all stumble to the Diag where a series of blathering, incoherent speeches are intended to incite motivation for seeking social change. But if you glance around at those who are actually paying attention and aren't passed out, you'll come to the realization that the only thing these people know about change is that they don't do it with their underwear.

The Hash Bash coordinators even give out awards and induct people into their "Hash Bash Hall of Fame." What an elite society this must be.

After all the pomp and circumstance, the stoners assemble their hemp bags and head back to their cars, leaving, of course, a flurry of garbage behind them. As if their mere presence alone didn't sully our city enough, they have to leave us a physical reminder of their visit.

The organizers of the event have tried recently to legitimize it. This year they are using the deaths of two marijuana martyrs as their pretext. The "official" website of Hash Bash bemoans that participants will "focus on the tragedy that happen (sic) at Rainbow farm." Eloquently put.

A look into the events of this alleged tragedy reveals that what happened was actually a violent five-day standoff provoked by a man wanted on charges of felony possession of a firearm, growing marijuana and maintaining a drug house. The Hash Bash heroes, Tom Crosslin and his partner Rolland Rohm, were shot by authorities after they drew their guns on FBI agents and Michigan State Police.

During the standoff, people inside the Rainbow Farm campground fired their weapons repeatedly and at one point hit a television news helicopter. All the while, Crosslin's friends and family were insisting that all he wanted was a "peaceful" resolution. (Incidentally, Crosslin assaulted a woman in 1995.) I'm no police negotiator, but firing guns in the air and then turning them on the police doesn't seem to be the best way to a peaceful solution.

If the Hash Bash promoters think these two potheads turned martyrs will bring an air of validity to their annual embarrassment, think again. The bums have lost. You're not wanted in this city. Why else do you think Hash Bash is overwhelmingly attended by people from outside Ann Arbor?

My suggestion: Move your gig to a city more fitting of your stature. Ypsilanti, Toledo or (insert your favorite Downriver community here); they'd probably be happy to take you. Or you could just move the bash to Washtenaw Community College, most of the people who will be on the Diag tomorrow go there anyway. Go anywhere. Just get the hell out of Ann Arbor.

Put that in your hash pipe and smoke it.

Jeremy W. Peters can be reached at jwpeters@umich.edu.